Temerin reminded himself what happened the last time he’d lost his temper and let loose with the more unpleasant side of his magic.
He was still finishing up paperwork over it.
Keeping a tight hold of his temper, he very carefully and slowly closed the book in which he’d been annotating spells for turning people into animals. Rubbing the jewel set into his forehead, he looked up at the man looming over his desk. “It is impossible to bind a demon,” he said for the thirty second time.
“You will tell me,” the man said for the thirty third time. What was his name? Rass? Close enough. “Everyone knows you have a demon, you will tell me how you captured it.”
Behind him, the three men who had accompanied Rass muttered and glowered and shuffled impatiently.
Temerin heaved a sigh and braced his hands on the desk, slowly standing to match Rass’ stance exactly, eyes narrowing. “Master Ross, I am telling you no lie. It is impossible to bind a demon. They do not bind. If you try to go about summoning and capturing a demon, it will only end in tragedy. I cannot tell you how to do what is impossible.”
“You are lying,” Ross said coldly. “Everyone says you have a bound demon working for you.”
“Everyone is wrong,” Temerin said curtly. “Good day to you–”
He was cut off as Rass grabbed the front of his shirt and yanked him the remaining space across the desk. “You will tell me how to bind a demon, wizard, or I will make certain you regret it for a very long time.”
“Release my master at once,” said a voice that was cold as the snow piling up against the windows outside.
Temerin realized he was more annoyed by this situation than he thought, if he had not heard his clerk return. Now that he was paying attention, he could smell the food Willow had fetched – fresh bread and good cheese, and it smelled very much like he’d managed to sweet-talk some soup as well.
Now to just get rid of the riff-raff.
But even as he thought it, Rass had been yanked away and throw into the front door, Willow moving to stand protectively between Temerin and the group of men. “Get out,” Willow said firmly, his stance and tone of voice at complete odds with his humble clerk’s appearance. A plain dark gray coat, black breeches, white neckcloth and cuffs, hair tied back with a gray silk ribbon, the silver of his spectacles a last final touch. Behind them, Temerin knew, his blue eyes would almost seem to glow.
Rass stepped forward, face red with anger now. “You dare to touch me! I am a Master of this town–”
“And my master is a wizard, and if you attempt to harm him again, I will kill you,” Willow said quietly, but with a firmness that came from speaking the simple truth.
Even Rass, it seemed, was not completely thick headed. He hesitated, but greed was a hard mistress to overcome. “I want him to tell me how to bind a demon.”
“It is impossible,” Willow said calmly. “Demons can be summoned, and that is a simple matter for the wizards under your charge, but they cannot be bound or otherwise captured. No demon can be made to leave the circle and obey. Everyone knows this; my master is no exception. He has not bound a demon.”
“Like he would tell a lowly clerk if he had,” Rass said sneeringly.
“Get out,” Willow repeated.
“Come on, Master,” said one of the men, and together with the other three, they persuaded Rass to leave for the time being.
Temerin rubbed his forehead, heaving a long sigh. “That is the twelfth one this week.”
Soft, warm fingers tangled with his on his forehead, and he shivered as Willow’s fingers rubbed the dark blue jewel set there. His own hands fell away as he allowed Willow to soothe him, shivering every time those careful, tender fingers stroked his jewel. “Willow…”
Lips brushed his, whisper soft, a hint of something sweet on Willow’s breath. “Now, Temi,” Willow said with a quiet laugh. “We just finished paying off the last of your fines. Do not incur more of them, or we shall never save up for the new shop.”
“Stop being logical,” Temerin muttered, displeased the kisses had gone away. “It spoils my lovely dreams of setting people on fire.”
Willow chuckled and cupped Temerin’s face in one hand, the other sliding down to caress his back and sides. The second kiss was as soft as the first, soothing and teasing all at once. “Come and eat, master, and then we shall finish bottling today’s orders and go home early.”
His eyes glowed like blue flames, bright and drawing. Willow’s eyes had been his undoing right from the start, from the moment he first saw the careful image in his book of demons. He had ached to see them first hand. Someway, somehow, he had succeeded.
Then the request had tumbled from him before he’d even realized he was going to say anything. Would you stay with me?
Why not? had been the demon’s reply. Call me…Willow he’d said later.
If anyone ever actually bothered to inquire, he would tell them that demons could not be captured – demons did not like to be forced, were too powerful to be ordered around.
But, they could be asked.